A motherboard in a dishwasher.
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek
With the right settings and precautions taken, you can indeed wash a motherboard in a dishwasher without damaging it. However, only professional overclockers have any real reason to do it.

Until now, you may never have considered sticking your motherboard into the dishwasher, but there are people who do it often: and it works! However, unless you know exactly what you’re doing and accept the risks, it’s a bad idea.

Warning: Before you read the rest of this article, we strongly recommend that you don’t put your motherboard in your dishwasher. Leave it to the professionals!

Why Would Anyone Do This?

Before we can discuss putting PC components in a big wet home appliance with any seriousness, we have to establish that this isn’t a theoretical idea. Extreme overclockers cover their motherboards in petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) as a way to (somewhat ironically) prevent condensation from shorting out the board while they use extreme cooling during benchmark runs.

Getting that gunk off the board is a huge pain, and so well-known names in the overclocking world such as der8auer use a dishwasher to make it easy. These aren’t just folks who are too lazy to dust!

RELATED: Why You Should Overclock Your RAM (It's Easy!)

Why Doesn’t This Destroy a Motherboard?

Water and electronics seem like they should under no circumstances mix, but usually the problem isn’t so much that electronics get wet, it’s that electricity goes where it’s not supposed to and destroys sensitive components.

Assuming the device is off and the water dries completely, then in theory it should work just fine when you do finally make the electrons flow. This comes with a large list of caveats, however. For example, though the water is gone, it may leave behind corrosive or conductive materials that can still destroy metals or cause short circuits. Some of the damage may not be immediately apparent, but it’s not mere wetness that’s at issue here.

That being said, you could run a working computer in a bath of distilled water (briefly) or in a vat of mineral oil (pretty much indefinitely), and there wouldn’t be any issues because those substances don’t conduct electricity well enough to allow for short circuits,

The folks who have done this also aren’t just using the dishwasher normally. They use low or no heat settings, reduce the strength of the water jets, don’t use any detergent at all, rinse the dishwasher first, and so on. Presumably, each dishwasher model would need different precautions and overclockers are often careful with their secrets lest the competition get ahead of them!

The Risk Are Too Serious

A motherboard in a clothes washer
Putting your motherboard in a clothes washer, though, definitely will destroy it. Jason Fitzpatrick

The people who use the dishwasher method are fully aware that the working motherboard they put into the dishwasher may very well come out as a broken one. This makes sense in the world of extreme overclocking since the motherboards are considered disposable anyway. They can break at any time for any reason.

So, again, unless you simply don’t care whether your motherboard is toast, you shouldn’t attempt cleaning it in this way. Even if you follow all the advice of people who do it, there’s a significant chance that heat, residue, water spray force, or simple human error can turn your expensive computer components into trash.

There Are Safer and Better Ways to Clean Your Filthy PC

As people who use computers and gadgets far more than the average person, we have to contend with technology that gets really dirty. This also means we have heaps of collective experience cleaning that gunk:

Hey, wait a minute. Another dishwasher cleaning guide? Well, it turns out that keyboards are actually a good candidate for dishwasher cleaning, if you follow our guide to the letter! For everything else, it’s best to stick to approved computer cleaning equipment.

Falcon Dust, Off Compressed Gas Disposable Duster

It's full of air, and, if you aren't an overclocker, that's all you need for a good motherboard cleaning.

Profile Photo for Sydney Butler Sydney Butler
Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
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